Dwight D. Eisenhower
State of the Union Address
January 10, 1957
To the Congress of the United States:
I appear before the Congress today to report on the State of the Union
and the relationships of the Union to the other nations of the world. I
come here, firmly convinced that at no time in the history of the Republic
have circumstances more emphatically underscored the need, in all echelons
of government, for vision and wisdom and resolution.
You meet in a season of stress that is testing the fitness of political
systems and the validity of political philosophies. Each stress stems in
part from causes peculiar to itself. But every stress is a reflection of
a universal phenomenon.
In the world today, the surging and understandable tide of nationalism
is marked by widespread revulsion and revolt against tyranny, injustice,
inequality and poverty. As individuals, joined in a common hunger for freedom,
men and women and even children pit their spirit against guns and tanks.
On a larger scale, in an ever more persistent search for the self-respect
of authentic sovereignty and the economic base on which national independence
must rest, peoples sever old ties; seek new alliances; experiment--sometimes
dangerously--in their struggle to satisfy these human aspirations.
Particularly, in the past year, this tide has changed the pattern of
attitudes and thinking among millions. The changes already accomplished
foreshadow a world transformed by the spirit of freedom. This is no faint
and pious hope. The forces now at work in the minds and hearts of men will
not be spent through. many years. In the main, today's expressions of nationalism
are, in spirit, echoes of our forefathers' struggle for independence.
This Republic cannot be aloof to these events heralding a new epoch
in the affairs of mankind.
Our pledged word, our enlightened self-interest, our character as a
Nation commit us to a high role in world affairs: a role of vigorous leadership,
ready strength, sympathetic understanding.
The State of the Union, at the opening of the 85th Congress continues
to vindicate the wisdom of the principles on which this Republic is rounded.
Proclaimed in the Constitution of the Nation and in many of our historic
documents, and rounded in devout religious convictions, these principles
A vigilant regard for human liberty.
A wise concern for human welfare.
A ceaseless effort for human progress.
Fidelity to these principles, in our relations with other peoples, has
won us new friendships and has increased our opportunity for service within
the family of nations. The appeal of these principles is universal, lighting
fires in the souls of men everywhere. We shall continue to uphold them,
against those who deny them and in counselling with our friends.
At home, the application of these principles to the complex problems
of our national life has brought us to an unprecedented peak in our economic
prosperity and has exemplified in our way of life the enduring human values
of mind and spirit.
Through the past four years these principles have guided the legislative
programs submitted by the Administration to the Congress. As we attempt
to apply them to current events, domestic and foreign, we must take into
account the complex entity that is the United States of America; what endangers
it; what can improve it.
The visible structure is our American economy itself. After more than
a century and a half of constant expansion, it is still rich in a wide
variety of natural resources. It is first among nations in its people'.s
mastery of industrial skills. It is productive beyond our own needs of
many foodstuffs and industrial products. It is rewarding to all our citizens
in opportunity to earn and to advance in self-realization and in self-expression.
It is fortunate in its wealth of educational and cultural and religious
centers. It is vigorously dynamic in the limitless initiative and willingness
to venture that characterize free enterprise. It is productive of a widely
Our economy is strong, expanding, and fundamentally sound. But in any
realistic appraisal, even the optimistic analyst will realize that in a
prosperous period the principal threat to efficient functioning of a free
enterprise system is inflation. We look back on four years of prosperous
activities during which prices, the cost of living, have been relatively
stable--that is, inflation has been held in check. But it is clear that
the danger is always present, particularly if the government might become
profligate in its expenditures or private groups might ignore all the possible
results on our economy of unwise struggles for immediate gain.
This danger requires a firm resolution that the Federal Government shall
utilize only a prudent share of the Nation's resources, that it shall live
within its means, carefully measuring against need alternative proposals
Through the next four years, I shall continue to insist that the executive
departments and agencies of Government search out additional ways to save
money and manpower. I urge that the Congress be equally watchful in this
We pledge the Government's share in guarding the integrity of the dollar.
But the Government's efforts cannot be the entire campaign against inflation,
the thief that can rob the individual of the value of the pension and social
security he has earned during his productive life. For success, Government's
efforts must be paralleled by the attitudes and actions of individual citizens.
I have often spoken of the purpose of this Administration to serve the
national interest of 170 million people. The national interest must take
precedence over temporary advantages which may be secured by particular
groups at the expense of all the people.
In this regard I call on leaders in business and in labor to think well
on their responsibility to the American people. With all elements of our
society, they owe the Nation a vigilant guard against the inflationary
tendencies that are always at work in a dynamic economy operating at today's
high levels. They can powerfully help counteract or accentuate such tendencies
by their wage and price policies.
Business in its pricing policies should avoid unnecessary price increases
especially at a time like the present when demand in so many areas presses
hard on short supplies. A reasonable profit is essential to the new investments
that provide more jobs in an expanding economy. But business leaders must,
in the national interest, studiously avoid those price rises that are possible
only because of vital or unusual needs of the whole nation.
If our economy is to remain healthy, increases in wages and other labor
benefits, negotiated by labor and management, must be reasonably related
to improvements in productivity. Such increases are beneficial, for they
provide wage earners with greater purchasing power. Except where necessary
to correct obvious injustices, wage increases that outrun productivity,
however, are an inflationary factor. They make for higher prices for the
public generally and impose a particular hardship on those whose welfare
depends on the purchasing power of retirement income and savings. Wage
negotiations should also take cognizance of the right of the public generally
to share in the benefits of improvements in technology.
Freedom has been defined as the opportunity for self-discipline. This
definition has a special application to the areas of wage and price policy
in a free economy. Should we persistently fail to discipline ourselves,
eventually there will be increasing pressure on government to redress the
failure. By that process freedom will step by step disappear. No subject
on the domestic scene should more attract the concern of the friends of
American working men and women and of free business enterprise than the
forces that threaten a steady depreciation of the value of our money.
Concerning developments in another vital sector of our economy--agriculture--I
am gratified that the long slide in farm income has been halted and that
further improvement is in prospect. This is heartening progress. Three
tools that we have developed--improved surplus disposal, improved price
support laws, and the soil bank--are working to reduce price-depressing
government stocks of farm products. Our concern for the well-being of farm
families demands that we constantly search for new ways by which they can
share more fully in our unprecedented prosperity. Legislative recommendations
in the field of agriculture are contained in the Budget Message.
Our soil, water, mineral, forest, fish, and wildlife resources are being
conserved and improved more effectively. Their conservation and development
are vital to the present and future strength of the Nation. But they must
not be the concern of the Federal Government alone. State and local entities,
and private enterprise should be encouraged to participate in such projects.
I would like to make special mention of programs for making the best
uses of water, rapidly becoming our most precious natural resource, just
as it can be, when neglected, a destroyer of both life and wealth. There
has been prepared and published a comprehensive water report developed
by a Cabinet Committee and relating to all phases of this particular problem.
In the light of this report, there are two things I believe we should
keep constantly in mind. The first is that each of our great river valleys
should be considered as a whole. Piecemeal operations within each lesser
drainage area can be self-defeating or, at the very least, needlessly expensive.
The second is that the domestic and industrial demands for water grow far
more rapidly than does our population.
The whole matter of making the best use of each drop of water from the
moment it touches our soil until it reaches the oceans, for such purposes
as irrigation, flood control, power production, and domestic and industrial
uses clearly demands the closest kind of cooperation and partnership between
municipalities, States and the Federal Government. Through partnership
of Federal, state and local authorities in these vast projects we can obtain
the economy and efficiency of development and operation that springs from
a lively sense of local responsibility.
Until such partnership is established on a proper and logical basis
of sharing authority, responsibility and costs, our country will never
have both the fully productive use of water that it so obviously needs
and protection against disastrous flood.
If we fail in this, all the many tasks that need to be done in America
could be accomplished only at an excessive cost, by the growth of a stifling
bureaucracy, and eventually with a dangerous degree of centralized control
over our national life.
In all domestic matters, I believe that the people of the United States
will expect of us effective action to remedy past failure in meeting critical
High priority should be given the school construction bill. This will
benefit children of all races throughout the country-and children of all
races need schools now. A program designed to meet emergency needs for
more classrooms should be enacted without delay. I am hopeful that this
program can be enacted on its own merits, uncomplicated by provisions dealing
with the complex problems of integration. I urge the people in all sections
of the country to approach these problems with calm and reason, with mutual
understanding and good will, and in the American tradition of deep respect
for the orderly processes of law and justice.
I should say here that we have much reason to be proud of the progress
our people are making in mutual understanding--the chief buttress of human
and civil rights. Steadily we are moving closer to the goal of fair and
equal treatment of citizens without regard to race or color. But unhappily
much remains to be done.
Last year the Administration recommended to the Congress a four-point
program to reinforce civil rights. That program included:
(1) creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate asserted violations
of civil rights and to make recommendations;
(2) creation of a civil rights division in the Department of Justice
in charge of an Assistant Attorney General;
(3) enactment by the Congress of new laws to aid in the enforcement
of voting rights; and
(4) amendment of the laws so as to permit the Federal Government to
seek from the civil courts preventive relief in civil rights cases.
I urge that the Congress enact this legislation.
Essential to the stable economic growth we seek is a system of well-adapted
and efficient financial institutions. I believe the time has come to conduct
a broad national inquiry into the nature, performance and adequacy of our
financial system, both in terms of its direct service to the whole economy
and in terms of its function as the mechanism through which monetary and
credit policy takes effect. I believe the Congress should authorize the
creation of a commission of able and qualified citizens to undertake this
vital inquiry. Out of their findings and recommendations the Administration
would develop and present to the Congress any legislative proposals that
might be indicated for the purpose of improving our financial machinery.
In this message it seems unnecessary that I should repeat recommendations
involving our domestic affairs that have been urged upon the Congress during
the past four years, but which, in some instances, did not reach the stage
of completely satisfactory legislation.
The Administration will, through future messages either directly from
me or from heads of the departments and agencies, transmit to the Congress
specific recommendations. These will involve our financial and fiscal affairs,
our military and civil defenses; the administration of justice; our agricultural
economy; our domestic and foreign commerce; the urgently needed increase
in our postal rates; the development of our natural resources; our labor
laws, including our labor-management relations legislation, and vital aspects
of the health, education and welfare of our people. There will be special
recommendations dealing with such subjects as atomic energy, the furthering
of public works, the continued efforts to eliminate government competition
with the businesses of tax-paying citizens.
A number of legislative recommendations will be mentioned specifically
in my forthcoming Budget Message, which will reach you within the week.
That message will also recommend such sums as are needed to implement the
Turning to the international scene:
The existence of a strongly armed imperialistic dictatorship poses a
continuing threat to the free world's and thus to our own Nation's security
and peace. There are certain truths to be remembered here.
First, America alone and isolated cannot assure even its own security.
We must be joined by the capability and resolution of nations that have
proved themselves dependable defenders of freedom. Isolation from them
invites war. Our security is also enhanced by the immeasurable interest
that joins us with all peoples who believe that peace with justice must
be preserved, that wars of aggression are crimes against humanity.
Another truth is that our survival in today's world requires modern,
adequate, dependable military strength. Our Nation has made great strides
in assuring a modern defense, so armed in new weapons, so deployed, so
equipped, that today our security force is the most powerful in our peacetime
history. It can punish heavily any enemy who undertakes to attack us. It
is a major deterrent to war.
By our research and development more efficient weapons-some of amazing
capabilities--are being constantly created. These vital efforts we shall
continue. Yet we must not delude ourselves that safety necessarily increases
as expenditures for military research or forces in being go up. Indeed,
beyond a wise and reasonable level, which is always changing and is under
constant study, money spent on arms may be money wasted on sterile metal
or inflated costs, thereby weakening the very security and strength we
National security requires far more than military power. Economic and
moral factors play indispensable roles. Any program that endangers our
economy could defeat us. Any weakening of our national will and resolution,
any diminution of the vigor and initiative of our individual citizens,
would strike a blow at the heart of our defenses.
The finest military establishment we can produce must work closely in
cooperation with the forces of our friends. Our system of regional pacts,
developed within the Charter of the United Nations, serves to increase
both our own security and the security of other nations.
This system is still a recent introduction on the world scene. Its problems
are many and difficult, because it insists on equality among its members
and brings into association some nations traditionally divided. Repeatedly
in recent months, the collapse of these regional alliances has been predicted.
The strains upon them have been at times indeed severe. Despite these strains
our regional alliances have proved durable and strong, and dire predictions
of their disintegration have proved completely false.
With other free nations, we should vigorously prosecute measures that
will promote mutual strength, prosperity and welfare within the free world.
Strength is essentially a product of economic health and social well-being.
Consequently, even as we continue our programs of military assistance,
we must emphasize aid to our friends in building more productive economies
and in better satisfying the natural demands of their people for progress.
Thereby we shall move a long way toward a peaceful world.
A sound and safeguarded agreement for open skies, unarmed aerial sentinels,
and reduced armament would provide a valuable contribution toward a durable
peace in the years ahead. And we have been persistent in our effort to
reach such an agreement. We are willing to enter any reliable agreement
which would reverse the trend toward ever more devastating nuclear weapons;
reciprocally provide against the possibility of surprise attack; mutually
control the outer space missile and satellite development; and make feasible
a lower level of armaments and armed forces and an easier burden of military
expenditures. Our continuing negotiations in this field are a major part
of our quest for a confident peace in this atomic age.
This quest requires as well a constructive attitude among all the nations
of the free world toward expansion of trade and investment, that can give
all of us opportunity to work out economic betterment.
An essential step in this field is the provision of an administrative
agency to insure the orderly and proper operation of existing arrangements
trader which multilateral trade is now carried on. To that end I urge Congressional
authorization for United States membership in the proposed Organization
for Trade Cooperation, an action which will speed removal of discrimination
against our export trade.
We welcome the efforts of a number of our European friends to achieve
an integrated community to develop a common market. We likewise welcome
their cooperative effort in the field of atomic energy.
To demonstrate once again our unalterable purpose to make of the atom
a peaceful servant of humanity, I shortly shall ask the Congress to authorize
full United States participation in the International Atomic Energy Agency.
World events have magnified both the responsibilities and the opportunities
of the United States Information Agency. Just as, in recent months, the
voice of communism has become more shaken and confused, the voice of truth
must be more clearly heard. To enable our Information Agency to cope with
these new responsibilities and opportunities, I am asking the Congress
to increase appreciably the appropriations for this program and for legislation
establishing a career service for the Agency's overseas foreign service
The recent historic events in Hungary demand that all free nations share
to the extent of their capabilities in the responsibility of granting asylum
to victims of Communist persecution. I request the Congress promptly to
enact legislation to regularize the status in the United States of Hungarian
refugees brought here as parolees. I shall shortly recommend to the Congress
by special message the changes in our immigration laws that I deem necessary
in the light of our world responsibilities.
The cost of peace is something we must face boldly, fearlessly. Beyond
money, it involves changes in attitudes, the renunciation of old prejudices,
even the sacrifice of some seeming self-interest.
Only five days ago I expressed to you the grave concern of your Government
over the threat of Soviet aggression in the Middle East. I asked for Congressional
authorization to help counter this threat. I say again that this matter
is of vital and immediate importance to the Nation's and the free world's
security and peace. By our proposed programs in the Middle East, we hope
to assist in establishing a climate in which constructive and long-term
solutions to basic problems of the area may be sought.
From time to time, there will be presented to the Congress requests
for other legislation in the broad field of international affairs. All
requests will reflect the steadfast purpose of this Administration to pursue
peace, based on justice. Although in some cases details will be new, the
underlying purpose and objectives will remain the same.
All proposals made by the Administration in this field are based on
the free world's unity. This unity may not be immediately obvious unless
we examine link by link the chain of relationships that binds us to every
area and to every nation. In spirit the free world is one because its people
uphold the right of independent existence for all nations. I have already
alluded to their economic interdependence. But their interdependence extends
also into the field of security.
First of all, no reasonable man will question the absolute need for
our American neighbors to be prosperous and secure. Their security and
prosperity are inextricably bound to our own. And we are, of course, already
joined with these neighbors by historic pledges.
Again, no reasonable man will deny that the freedom and prosperity and
security of Western Europe are vital to our own prosperity and security.
If the institutions, the skills, the manpower of its peoples were to fall
under the domination of an aggressive imperialism, the violent change in
the balance of world power and in the pattern of world commerce could not
be fully compensated for by any American measures, military or economic.
But these people, whose economic strength is largely dependent on free
and uninterrupted movement of oil from the Middle East, cannot prosper--indeed,
their economies would be severely impaired--should that area be controlled
by an enemy and the movement of oil be subject to its decisions.
Next, to the Eastward, are Asiatic and Far Eastern peoples, recently
returned to independent control of their own affairs or now emerging into
sovereign statehood. Their potential strength constitutes new assurance
for stability and peace in the world--if they can retain their independence.
Should they lose freedom and be dominated by an aggressor, the world-wide
effects would imperil the security of the free world.
In short, the world has so shrunk that all free nations are our neighbors.
Without cooperative neighbors, the United States cannot maintain its own
security and welfare, because:
First, America's vital interests are world-wide, embracing both hemispheres
and every continent.
Second, we have community of interest with every nation in the free
Third, interdependence of interests requires a decent respect for the
rights and the peace of all peoples.
These principles motivate our actions within the United Nations. There,
before all the world, by our loyalty to them, by our practice of them,
let us strive to set a standard to which all who seek justice and who hunger
for peace can rally.
May we at home, here at the Seat of Government, in all the cities and
towns and farmlands of America, support these principles in a personal
effort of dedication. Thereby each of us can help establish a secure world
order in which opportunity for freedom and justice will be more widespread,
and in which the resources now dissipated on the armaments of war can be
released for the life and growth of all humanity.
When our forefathers prepared the immortal document that proclaimed
our independence, they asserted that every individual is endowed by his
Creator with certain inalienable rights. As we gaze back through history
to that date, it is clear that our nation has striven to live up to this
declaration, applying it to nations as well as to individuals.
Today we proudly assert that the government of the United States is
still committed to this concept, both in its activities at home and abroad.
The purpose is Divine; the implementation is human.
Our country and its government have made mistakes--human mistakes. They
have been of the head--not of the heart. And it is still true that the
great concept of the dignity of all men, alike created in the image of
the Almighty, has been the compass by which we have tried and are trying
to steer our course.
So long as we continue by its guidance, there will be true progress
in human affairs, both among ourselves and among those with whom we deal.
To achieve a more perfect fidelity to it, I submit, is a worthy ambition
as we meet together in these first days of this, the first session of the